iPad Buying Guide: Which One is Right for You?
With four different models in four sizes and prices ranging from $329 to $1,229, there are plenty of iPad options to choose from. That's a good thing, but how do you decide which one to buy? Use our handy iPad buying guide to get the right Apple slate for your needs and budget.
iPad Models Compared
The iPad lineup is made up of three families: the iPad Pro, the iPad mini and the regular, 9.7-inch iPad. But as you drill down to the individual models, you'll find plenty of variety in specs, features and price. Here's a quick breakdown.
|iPad||iPad mini 4|
|Best For||Laptop Replacement, Professional Artists||Note-Taking, Light Productivity||Media Consumption, Gaming||Reading, Email, Social Media, Light Gaming|
(2732 x 2048)
(2224 x 1668)
(2048 x 1536)
|Storage (GB)||64, 256, 512||64, 256, 512||32, 128||128|
(Rear / Front)
|12 MP, 7MP||12 MP, 7MP||8 MP, 1.2 MP||8 MP. 1.2 MP|
|Silver, Space Gray, Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold, Rose Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold||Silver, Space Gray, Gold|
|Dimensions||12 x 8.68 x 0.27 inches||9.8 x 6.8 x 0.24 inches||9.4 x 6.6 x 0.29 inches||7.9 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches|
|1.03 pounds||0.73 pounds|
All iPads provide access to more than 1 million apps optimized for the big screen, which is far more than what Android or Windows devices offer. You can also expect a high-quality aluminum unibody design and a bright and crisp display.
The tablets all come with iOS 10, the latest version of Apple's mobile OS. Key features include a redesigned music player, richer notifications, a better looking news app, more messaging customizations and a robust maps app, which suggests locations of interest along your route.
This fall, iOS 11 will arrive and make the iPad an even more productive device with significant improvements that should enable better multitasking. Those upgrades include a Files app for organizing your documents and projects, a Dock that makes iOS feel more like macOS and the ability to drag and drop text, photos and files.
Also note that all iPad models can be ordered with 4G LTE capability, which allows you to get online when you're out of Wi-Fi range. You'll pay $139 more than you would for the Wi-Fi-only version, plus the cost of whatever monthly data plan you sign up for.
Simply called the "iPad," this 9.7-inch slate is the most affordable Apple tablet, with a starting price of just $329. Despite its lower price, the iPad has plenty of premium specs, including a 2048 x 1536 retina display, a speedy A9 processor and dual 8-MP / 1.2-MP cameras. It comes in Silver, Space Gray and Gold colors in either 32 or 128GB capacity. The iPad also offers the second-longest battery life of the bunch, lasting 12 hours and 59 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test.
Best For: Because of its relatively low price and generous screen size, the iPad is a great choice for media consumption, gaming, social media and some light productivity (email, note taking without a pen). Though the iPad mini 4 is a better size for small hands, many parents will prefer the iPad's lower price when choosing a slate for their kids. College students on a budget will also find this model appealing.
12.9-inch iPad Pro
The 12.9-inch iPad Pro delivers a big and beautiful display, fast performance and long battery life, but it's best for creative pros. The Apple Pencil (sold separately for $99) delivers awesome precision, and the A10X processor can handle anything you throw at it. If you add the $169 Smart Keyboard, you've got a 2-in-1 that might be able to rival your laptop.
Best For: This behemoth is large enough to replace a laptop, if you pair it with the keyboard. It also provides the largest canvas for professional artists and video editors to do their work.
10.5-inch iPad Pro
The 10.5-inch iPad Pro offers the same beautiful display, power and support for the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard as its 12.9-inch big brother. The key differences are a more affordable $649 starting price, a Rose Gold option, around 8 ounces of weight and more than 3 hours of additional battery life.
Best For: If you need to take a lot of notes or require a tablet for business purposes -- editing and showing presentations, clipboard use, etc -- the 10.5-inch iPad Pro offers the best balance between portability and productivity.
iPad mini 4
If you're looking for a more purse-friendly tablet with a stunning screen, the iPad mini 4 may be the device for you. It features the same pixel resolution as the larger iPad model on a smaller, 7.9-inch display. It also includes the same 8-MP and 1.2-MP cameras found in the 9.7-inch iPad, but its more compact size may be more suitable for small or childlike hands.
Best For: If you like to read on the couch, in bed or on the go, the mini 4 is a great size for books, especially comic books. Its relatively small screen makes it easy to type quick social media posts or send off emails, during one handed use or while standing up. The mini 4 is the best size for kids, but parents may prefer to get the less-expensive iPad 9.7-inch.